Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Nov 7, 2020

Dear Southwest Tech Colleagues,

Another week passes but one that was unlike any in history.  There isn’t much I can say to solve the circumstances we face in society today.  I hope we can treat each other with kindness as we help our students learn and grow.  We can, however limited our words, choose to act with more consistent alignment to our values.  Alexandre Dumas, author of the “The Count of Monte Cristo”, wrote: “For there are two distinct sorts of ideas, those that proceed from the head and those that emanate from the heart.”  We know in our minds that our work to help students learn improves their lives.  May we place a higher priority on more consistent alignment between our values and our actions to serve others with kindness, empathy, and respect.  We can, I believe, create a powerful anecdote to what ails society by simply being nicer.  It appears Gandalf agrees and, if you listen closely, there is much in his message relevant to current events.

Please know how very much I care about your well-being.  Please let me know if there is something I can do for you.

Here are a few updates from around the college:

  1. COVID: Positive cases continue to rise locally and disrupt our ability to offer in-person learning.  Please stay home if you are not feeling well.  We encourage people to get tested if they have symptoms or are exposed to others who have tested positive.  When on campus we expect people to maintain physical distance, wear approved face masks, and wash hands frequently – please help by holding yourself and others accountable to these expectations.  We will continue to adapt our in-person learning and services on a case-by-case basis to provide access to students whenever possible.
  2. Assessment Academy:
    1. A team comprising of Christina Winch, Robin Hamel, Mandy Henkel, Natalie Long, Cynde Larsen, Sara Biese, and Deb Ihm attended the kick-off meeting of a four-year Assessment Academy sponsored by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).  The team identified the strong practices our college currently has in place to assess student learning inside and outside of the classroom.  They met with representatives from 19 other colleges who are also attending the Academy. HLC leaders and mentors provided guidance during the conference.  The team is planning a ‘Data Drive’ for faculty and staff during our January Learning Academy.  The team will be gathering information and data about the many ways in which your work influences student learning.  Following assessment activities, we will then be able to use the findings to strengthen decisions and make investments to improve student learning.
  3. Cool Things Involving Students!
    1. Winterize Your Wheels is a partnership between Student Senate and the Auto Tech program scheduled for November 9-12.  Students will receive a winter service check including replacement of wiper blades, a winter emergency kit, and jumper cables.  Auto tech students will perform the service and Runde Chevrolet is serving as an industry partner.  Thanks to Erin Kerkhoff, Robin Hamel, Darnell Wiegman, Brian Waldner, Tyson Larsen, Derek Dachelet, and Melissa Klinkhammer for creating this opportunity.  This is one of many examples of student learning activities in one program benefitting many other students from around the college.
    2. Student Senate sponsored A&W Night on Oct. 27th and 105 students participated.  Students were able to order up to $10 worth of food free of charge at A&W restaurants in Platteville, Lancaster, and Boscobel.  Our local industry partners were very appreciative of the support and reported our students were polite, respectful, and a delight to serve…things we already know!
  4. Listening Sessions:  As previously shared, I am looking to improve how I listen to feedback and ideas on topics that are important to you.  Please submit suggestions for the agenda here.  You are also welcome to show up and share during the meeting.  Two zoom sessions have been scheduled and appointments are posted on your calendars as voluntary invitations:
    1. Tuesday, November 24 – Listening Session 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
    2. Monday, December 8 – Listening Session 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  5. Kudos to…
    1. Tonia Breuer for being an exemplary role model to Brynn Junk, an adjunct instructor.  Brynn notes her appreciation in the attached Shout Out.  We are grateful to our many adjuncts for their expertise and commitment.  Thank you to the faculty and staff who provide support, like Tonia, to our adjunct instructors.
    2. Tim Krieger, a student, for speaking with the Board of Directors at the last meeting.  Tim shared his perspective related to the Respect Pledge and his insights were impactful.  The attached Shout Out is from the Board of Directors and we thank everyone who has chosen to sign the Respect Pledge.  More importantly, thank you to everyone who is making an effort to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment.
    3. Cindy Rasmussen for helping a student complete the process to gain citizenship in time to vote!  The student was so grateful for Cindy’s efforts she made a special trip to deliver cake as a way to say thank you.  Cindy noted that these “moments make this job so meaningful!”  We appreciate you, Cynde, for helping students learn in ways that matter to them! 

Finally, please remember on Wednesday, November 11, to thank a veteran for their service to our country.  People who sacrifice their own comforts and personal well-being for others deserve our respect and appreciation.  Thank you to our students, faculty, staff, and community members who are veterans…you are heroes.

As always, please let me know if you have feedback, comments, or questions. 

Take care,

Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.
President of the College

Posted in COVID-19, Update